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F5 and Versafe: Because Mobility Matters
Context means more visibility into devices, networks, and applications even when they're unmanaged

Mobility is a significant driver of technology today. Whether it's mobility of applications between data center and cloud, web and mobile device platform or users from corporate to home to publicly available networks, mobility is a significant factor impacting all aspects of application delivery but in particular, security.

Server virtualization, BYOD, SaaS, and remote work all create new security problems for data center managers. No longer can IT build a security wall around its data center; security must be provided throughout the data and application delivery process. This means that the network must play a key role in securing data center operations as it “touches” and “sees” all traffic coming in and out of the data center.

-- Lee Doyle, GigaOM

"Survey: SDN benefits unclear to enterprise network managers"


MOBILITY MATTERS (3)It's a given that corporate data and access to applications need to be protected when delivered to locations outside corporate control. Personal devices, home networks, and cloud storage all introduce the risk of information loss through a variety of attack vectors.

But that's not all that poses a risk. Mobility of customers, too, is a source of potential disaster waiting to happen as control over behavior as well as technology is completely lost. Industries based on consumers and using technology to facilitate business transactions are particularly at risk from consumer mobility and, more importantly, from the attackers that target them.

If the risk posed by successful attacks - phishing, pharming and social engineering - isn't enough to give the CISO an ulcer, the cost of supporting sometimes technically challenged consumers will. Customer service and support has become in recent years not only a help line for the myriad web and mobile applications offered by an organization, but a security help desk, as well, as consumers confused by e-mail and web attacks make use of such support lines.

F5 and Security

F5 views security as a holistic strategy that must be able to dig into not just the application and corporate network, but into the device and application, too, as well as the networks over which users access both mobile and web applications.

That's where Versafe comes in with its unique combination of client-side intelligent visibility and subscription-based security service. Versafe's technology employs its client-side visibility and logic with expert-driven security operations to ensure real-time detection of a variety of threat vectors common to web and mobile applications alike. Its coverage of browsers, devices and users is comprehensive. Every platform, every user and every device can be protected from a vast array of threats including those not covered by traditional solutions such as session hijacking.

Versafe approaches web fraud by monitoring the integrity of the session data that the application expects to see between itself and the browser. This method isn’t vulnerable to ‘zero-day’ threats: malware variants, new proxy/masking techniques, or fraudulent activity originating from devices, locations or users who haven’t yet accumulated digital fraud fingerprints.


Continuous Delivery Meets Continuous Security

Versafe's solution can accomplish such comprehensive coverage because it's clientless,relying on injection into web content in real time. That's where F5 comes in. Using F5 iRules, the appropriate Versafe code can be injected dynamically into web pages to scan and detect potential application threats including script injection, trojans, and pharming attacks. Injection in real-time through F5 iRules eliminates reliance on scanning and updating heterogeneous endpoints and, of course, relying on consumers to install and maintain such agents. This allows the delivery process to scale seamlessly along with users and devices and reasserts control over processes and devices not under IT control, essentially securing unsecured devices and lines of communication.

Injection-based delivery also means no impact on application developers or applications, which means it won't reduce application development and deployment velocity. It also enables  real-time and up-to-the-minute detection and protection against threats because the injected Versafe code is always communicating with the latest, up-to-date security information maintained by Versafe at its cloud-based, Security Operations Center. User protection is always on, no matter where the user might be or on what device and doesn't require updating or action on the part of the user.

The clientless aspect of Versafe means it has no impact on user experience. Versafe further takes advantage of modern browser technology to execute with no performance impact on the user experience, That's a big deal, because a variety of studies on real behavior indicates performance hits of even a second on load times can impact revenue and user satisfaction with web applications.

Both the web and mobile offerings from Versafe further ensure transaction integrity by assessing a variety of device-specific and behavioral variables such as device ID, mouse and click patterns, sequencing of and timing between actions and continuous monitoring of JavaScript functions. These kinds of checks are sort of an automated Turing test; a system able to determine whether an end-user is really a human being - or a bot bent on carrying out a malicious activity. security-turing-test

But it's not just about the mobility of customers, it's also about the mobility - and versatility - of modern attackers. To counter a variety of brand, web and domain abuse, Versafe's cloud-based 24x7x365 Security Operations Center and Malware Analysis Team proactively monitors for organization-specific fraud and attack scheming across all major social and business networks to enable rapid detection and real-time alerting of suspected fraud.


The acquisition of Versafe and its innovative security technologies expands the F5 ecosystem by exploiting the programmable nature of its platform. Versafe technology supports and enhances F5's commitment to context-circledelivering context-aware application services by further extending our visibility into the user and device domain. Its cloud-based, subscription service complements F5's IP Intelligence Service, which provides a variety of similar service-based data that augments F5 customers' ability to make context-aware decisions based on security and location data.

Coupled with existing application security services such as web application and application delivery firewalls, Versafe adds to the existing circle of F5 application security services comprising user, network, device and application while adding brand and reputation protection to its already robust security service catalog.

We're excited to welcome Versafe into the F5 family and with the opportunity to expand our portfolio of delivery services.


More information on Versafe:

Read the original blog entry...

About Lori MacVittie
Lori MacVittie is responsible for education and evangelism of application services available across F5’s entire product suite. Her role includes authorship of technical materials and participation in a number of community-based forums and industry standards organizations, among other efforts. MacVittie has extensive programming experience as an application architect, as well as network and systems development and administration expertise. Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was an award-winning Senior Technology Editor at Network Computing Magazine, where she conducted product research and evaluation focused on integration with application and network architectures, and authored articles on a variety of topics aimed at IT professionals. Her most recent area of focus included SOA-related products and architectures. She holds a B.S. in Information and Computing Science from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.

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